Mud

I write a lot about the really horrible feelings of bipolar depression.  The black pit of nothingness where I can’t see a reason to go on for another moment.

I write a lot about the days where I’m hypomanic and colors are brighter and emotions all feel bigger and better.

I’ve even started writing about the regular every day days.  The days where things feel “normal” and not too much or too dark.

There’s another type of depression though.  These aren’t the black pit, but they are just apathy.  I’ll sit and stare into space and realize an hour has gone past.  I’ll sit and scroll on Facebook over and over and over and not even realize what I’m looking at.  I don’t really feel sad, but I don’t really feel anything.

My chainmaille supplies and my diamond painting supplies are right here on my desk, it really isn’t much work at all to get them out, but there is no real desire to actually go through the motions to do it.  I’m bored, but no interest in not being bored.  I sleep less, or I sleep more, neither really matters because I don’t really have all that much desire to get out of bed or to go to bed.  I don’t really care where I am.

Dishes will pile up in the sink, laundry sits unfolded, feeding the animals feels like a chore.  I go to the gym and stand there staring at the machines with no clue where to even start because I don’t have interest in any of it.

I hurt everywhere, but this isn’t just from my chronic pain issues, this is because depression causes pain too.  It’s a different kind of pain, one that medication doesn’t really take care of.

It’s not the desperate feeling like the extreme depression I normally write about.  It’s no where near as dangerous or as harmful.  However, this apathy is a more common form of depression and is something that a lot of people struggle with.

Once I manage to get started on a project, or convince myself to wash just a couple of dishes, I normally can stick with it and get a decent amount done.  It’s constantly finding that balance between giving myself some leeway, being gentle with myself, and accepting that right now I’m moving through mud and things are harder, but also pushing myself to still get things done and keep some momentum.

Luckily it seems like my medications are doing their job.  I’m staying at this level of depression for now and not sinking further.  I’m still able to keep functioning at some level and have good hours and good days.

Right now I appreciate that my depression is mild, this is much easier to live with than the black hole I kept sinking into before.  This still sucks, but it could be so much worse.  I’m trying to keep writing, trying to stay connected with my friends and support network.

Even though I’m walking through mud, I still keep pushing forward, one step at a time.  The only way out is through.

Lucky in Love

Today is about Wonder Woman and I.  Today is a day that we celebrate our year of firsts.  We went to bed after midnight last night smiling about our first year, and talking about sticking around for another year, and this morning we woke up and cuddled in closer together for anniversary cuddles.

And then someone mentioned how lucky we were.  And I realized, I am lucky, and not only am I lucky right now, I’m lucky enough to have had this twice now.  Two totally different relationships that had an amazing amount of love.

And then the tears started falling.

Dammit, here’s another special day darkened by the cloud of widowhood.

I wanted to stuff it down, bury it, not let myself deal with it, because today is about Wonder Woman and I and dammit, I’m not going to let Ghost Wife have the spotlight.  But the more I tried to push it down the bigger the cloud became.

Then I figured I’d keep it quiet, not let Wonder Woman know because I didn’t want to hurt her and let her know that I was even thinking about Parker on a day like today.  But, then it came out, tears and all, because I can’t always keep a wall up when my feelings are so big.

So I’m writing, and sharing, and processing the best way I know how.

Parker has been a part of our relationship since day one.  A year ago, I couldn’t go a full day without mentioning Parker’s name or some story about us.  A year ago I hadn’t even said “late wife” for the first time, she was still my wife.  A year ago Wonder Woman started dating me knowing that Parker was, and would always be a part of my life.  That I would always be a widow.

Sometimes I think she knows that, and accepts that, better than I do.

I don’t always understand how she’s so accepting of all of it and of me.  I can’t always see that I deserve this.  There is so much love in our relationship and I find myself questioning my right to this.

It’s hard to accept that she loves me for me, all of me.  All of me includes the part that is a widow, and that means sometimes on anniversaries I will grieve who I was and what brought me here.

But I still want to be right where I’m at, because I deserve every bit of this.

I deserve happy and I deserve love.

I’m so so lucky to have found it a second time.

Look At How You’ve Grown

I talked to Kidlet for over an hour today.  We were both taking long walks, on our respective sides of the country, while talking over the phone about our current lives and our past, various relationships and friendships we’ve had over the years.  We talked about religion and politics and food and memories and finances.

So many different times throughout the conversation I was amazed by his maturity, and how articulate he is.  He’s always been well spoken but the breaks between our conversations make it more noticeable.  He will always be my Kidlet, but he’s not a kid anymore.

Our relationship has changed drastically.  Not in bad ways at all.  I no longer need to offer advice the way I once tried to, but he still calls just so he can hear me on the other end of the line.  We are still as close as we always were, but in a totally different way.  In some ways I think we are even closer.

Hours spent walking with a restless infant in my arms are now replaced by hours walking and talking on the phone.  The 18 years in between seem like a blur.

 

 

Judge

I love getting feedback about how my honesty helps others.  I love hearing how my speaking up is helping others to find their voice.  I’ve been sharing my story and speaking my truth in some format for as long as I can remember, but it’s changed.  From screaming about how unfair life is to explaining how this life can happen to anyone.  Rants about inadequate mental and physical health care slowly changed into posts about my grief journey and how I was “working it out” at the gym.  Slowly that has morphed into what it is today and I’m sure it will continue changing as I keep writing.

One thing that will never change is that quietly, in the background, there are people who are judging me.

When I was talking about homelessness and house fires and poverty, people were blaming me for not working harder and raising my child in a better situation.  When I was ranting and raving about doctors who wouldn’t take me seriously because I was on government health insurance and doctors who just saw me as a fat lazy female, there were people who were judging me because I shouldn’t be complaining about the care I got for free, or I should just lose weight like the doctors said and stop fighting all of their advice.

When I was grieving through joy, people were judging me because I wasn’t crying enough, I wasn’t sad enough, I didn’t wear my black veil and spend enough time in silent mourning.  They were judging me for living life large, for finding the joy, for proclaiming that I was enough and celebrating all of my successes despite losing my wife.

Today people are judging me for speaking up about mental health, about grief, about widowhood.  My “really real” posts are too real.  I share too much pain, too much sorrow, but also I’m judged for managing to be so dark one day, and find so much joy the next.

I’m judged for Parker’s death, and that’s something that will never change.  There are people who see it as being directly my fault, because I pushed her to it.  There are those who see it as being indirectly my fault, because I should have seen the signs or done more to help her.

It wouldn’t matter what I wrote or didn’t write.  What I said, or didn’t say.  There will always be someone in the shadows judging me.  I will always be too much or too little for someone, somewhere, sometime.

Instead of focusing on those who are judging me I choose to focus on what helps me, what do I need, what helps me process my grief, my mental health, my situation.  What is the best form of self care, for me, today?  That isn’t always easy.  There’s always a voice in the back of my head asking what other people are going to think if I say this or write that.  Am I going to hurt this person, or is that person going to take it personally?  Will they laugh at me or think less of me for sharing this.

The truth is, at any given moment someone is judging me for something anyway, and that’s their problem.  I need to handle my life in a way that’s going to help me survive and even thrive.  For me, that means writing about the hard stuff.  That means speaking my story and sharing my truth.

What does that mean for you?

World Suicide Prevention Day

Today is a shitty brain day.

After having an incredible weekend, and a few great weeks, it really sucks to wake up one morning and not want to get out of bed.

I know what triggered this bad brain day.  I know the series of things that I have been shoving to the back of my brain, that my brain brought to the front overnight.  I know what made me wake up this morning and say “Nope.”

But I have my list of things that I’m living for.  And even as my brain tells me there’s no reason to live, I remind myself of the reasons I have to stay alive.

I fought my way through the fog and eventually opened my mouth and spoke to someone about what had triggered me, shining light into all of the dark spaces.  This was a person who wouldn’t try to fix me, but would let me talk and cry.  As much as I feel like fixing would help, as much as I want someone to fix this, I know that in the long run I have to fix myself or the problem will only get worse.

I know that part of my problem today is the fact that it’s World Suicide Prevention Day.  I’d love to be able to do wonderful things on these days, save lives in some grand way, but I’m doing that in my own way, supporting people in my own way.   Days like today just remind me of the life that was lost.  Days like today just remind me that her suicide wasn’t prevented.

But I’m also glad that today exists.  I’m glad that we bring awareness to the issue a few times a year, or when some celebrity dies.  I guess my contribution to World Suicide Prevention Day is to remind you that people like me are still here and we still need your support.  Talk to us, check on us.

Especially on days like today, but not only on days like today.

Quiet

One word that would never have been used to describe me is quiet.

I’m a talker. Or at least I was.

I still talk a lot when I’m anxious. I feel the need to fill the silence but I’m also learning to sit more in the silence. Not every silence is an anxious silence. Not every silence is tension or uncomfortable. Often it’s okay to just sit quietly.

I’m learning that I don’t need to tell my story all of the time. I don’t need to speak every thought that crosses my mind.

I was told at least once, but I’m sure more than once when I was younger, that I talked just to hear myself speak. I was told that my voice was too much. I was given the impression that speaking too much was bad or wrong. Because of that I silenced myself when I felt like I was talking too long or running on.

This is a different sort of silence though. I’m just more of a quiet person now. I talk when I have something to say, but my thoughts are quieter, calmer. When I want to be heard I speak up, mostly, still not always, but mostly. I’m still getting used to my thoughts being quieter though. Sometimes it’s scary to have so much quiet inside.

For most of my life I’ve had what I call my “trains of thought” running around in my head. These were dozens or even hundreds of train tracks criss-crossing, trains barely missing each other, and often colliding. Constant buzzing of so many different thoughts that grabbing just one was nearly impossible.

I always had something to say. I always had something to talk about or something that needed to be said with some urgency because if I didn’t get it out right that moment it would be lost among all of the other trains.

As much as it was so wrong to be told that I talked to hear myself speak, in some ways they were right, only that I talked just to drown out the sound of my own head. Using my voice quieted the noise inside.

Now it’s quiet inside. Now there isn’t anything fighting to get out, nothing that needs to be said right now.

Now I’m becoming the quiet one. Sometimes content to just sit and listen, or just sit in silence.

Who ever thought that I’d be the quiet one.

Eight

It’s the Eighth of the month again, and again I feel the need to write this post instead of sharing something.  These are things I may have said before, or not, but either way, it comes from the heart because it’s something I’m living and breathing and experiencing.

This weekend I’m in Philadelphia.  I’m actually writing this post a day early with plans to post it tomorrow, so right now I’m packing to leave for a weekend with Wonder Woman.  Next week we celebrate our first anniversary.  This past week I bought my bus tickets to New York to go see a friend next month for her son’s first birthday.

A few months ago I couldn’t see past the end of the week.  A few months ago I couldn’t see more than a few hours ahead of me.  At times I saw nothingness.  My world became blank.

It took me gritting my teeth and pushing through the hard, hanging on for dear life, literally.  Sometimes spending hours in bed because it would have been dangerous to let my feet hit the floor.

It took me reaching out for help.

But because I did all of that, I’m here to plan trips again.  I’m here to celebrate my first year with an amazing woman, when I never thought I’d be able to love again after losing Parker.

I’m still working my way slowly back to health and wellness.  I still stumble and I’m still not ready to go full speed ahead.

But I’m glad I held on. I’m glad I kept looking at all of my reasons to live.

Can you stop right now and come up with 8 reasons to live?  Even if you think you’ll never need them.  Even if you think you’ll never be suicidal.  Think of 8 reasons, people, purpose, dreams, any reasons.  Maybe write them down.  Think of 8 things you can hold on for if things suddenly get dark.

You’ll never realize how much of a difference those things can make until you need them, and when you need them you should already know what they are.

If you’re in crisis, or if you need someone to hear you, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

or text the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

Either way, reach out and hold on.

You’re worth it, and it will get better.

Secondary

In the widow community, people often talk about secondary losses.  Those losses that come after the loss of our spouse.  Loss of security, loss of friends, financial loss, and in some cases, loss of family.

It’s incredibly hard to lose touch with a family you once saw as your own, a family you thought you were a part of.  Death does a lot to rip people apart and it’s understandable that every person, and every family has to deal with their grief in their own way.  Sometimes there are casualties other than the person that died

I have memories of holiday dinners with a family I will never see again, gifts made with love, countless updates on how everyone was doing.  Love sent and received.  Phone calls made from the hospital keeping her mother updated because I knew how a mother would worry.   I knew her family like my own and I love them.

Unfortunately, everyone grieves in their own way and while I want to reach out and hold family close, so many people want to push me away.  It’s easier to forget I existed.  I wasn’t really the spouse anyway, not in God’s eyes, according to them.

Secondary losses are the losses that keep giving.  I don’t want to be the one to cut people out so every holiday I would call, but I was never the one that got the call.  Eventually the holidays start coming where I fight the urge to pick up the phone because maybe they just don’t want to hear from me and I’m pushing my love where it isn’t wanted.  The phone doesn’t ring, eventually text messages go unanswered.

There are so many questions it brings up for me.  So many ways it makes me hurt for me AND for Parker to wonder if it’s so easy to push me aside.

But at the same time I hurt for them.  It can’t be easy to see me living and not see her.  It can’t even be bearable to see me moving forward and know that she’s frozen in time.  I fully respect and understand that they are all doing what’s best for them in their own grief.  I’m assuming their faith and my life play war with each other as well, we know that wasn’t easy.

I can’t imagine, and don’t want to imagine what it’s like to lose a child and I have so much love and compassion for my mother in law.

But fuck, losing an entire family on top of losing my wife.

This shit sucks.

Widowing isn’t easy.